The days of supremacy for the portable navigation device (PND) in the global navigation market are coming to an end with the rise in worldwide usage of GPS-equipped smartphones in the coming years, according to iSuppli Corp.

After several years of strong sales growth, PNDs will continue to lead the navigation market in 2009, with 114 million sets to be in use by the end of the year, compared to 57.8 million smartphones. However, by 2014, usage of navigation-enabled smartphones will rise to 305 million units, exceeding the 128 million PNDs that will be around by then.

"Previously, smartphones were not seen as a threat to the dominance of PNDs due to mobile handsets' poor battery life, unclear pricing structures and inferior interface," said Danny Kim, global location-based service (LBS) analyst for iSuppli.

New smartphone models are more suitable for use with navigation applications for a range of reasons, including the integration of GPS functionality, better usability, larger screens, built-in connectivity and most importantly, the flurry of applications being developed for smartphones. Other features boosting the smartphones' utility for navigation include better microprocessor support, higher internal Flash memory and improved battery life.

iSuppli believes that in 2011, nearly 100% of all smartphones shipped will integrate GPS functionality. "These features will give smartphones similar feature sets as mid-range PNDs, making them more attractive to users," Kim said. Another factor driving increased usage of smartphone navigation is the launch of high-profile navigation applications from TomTom and Navigon for the iPhone. "These new applications will make the iPhone a better match for the PNDs, diverting attention from the portable navigation devices," Kim said.

With TomTom's announcement last week, Apple now has eight navigation applications for the iPhone -- two off-board solutions and six on-board counterparts. The initial reaction from iPhone users should be encouraging to the application suppliers. Owing to the arrival of these applications, iPhone navigation users are expected to increase to 28 million in 2013, up from just 2 million in 2009, iSuppli predicts.

iSuppli also predicts that the two major PND vendors are expected to maintain very similar market shares in the PND space into 2013. The number of TomTom and Garmin PNDs in use -- based on a three-year life span -- is not expected to change significantly between 2009 and 2013. Any new growth in PND shipments is likely to come from the Asia-Pacific region, where past map coverage has been patchy but is improving.